Mystery religion

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A mystery religion is any religion with an arcanum, or secret wisdom. In a mystery religion, an inner core of beliefs, practices, and the religion's true nature, are revealed only to those who have been initiated into its secrets. (The ancient Greek term μυστήρια (mysteria) means "initiation", notably in the context of the Eleusinian Mysteries.)

Mystery religions tend historically to be geographically limited as to the majority of their core practitioners. This has changed somewhat with modern improvements in transportation and communication.


[edit] Early Christians

In the language of the early Christians, the mysteries were those religious teachings that were carefully guarded from the knowledge of the profane. An example is the Secret Gospel of Mark, which was preserved from profane view in Alexandria, and is now known only through chance references in a letter of Clement of Alexandria. The Gospel of Thomas purports to express mysteries that were confided by Jesus to Thomas alone, and the traditions of early Christian Gnosticism were based on esoteric information available only to disciples.

Though these traditions were marginalized by mainstream Pauline Christianity and eventually declared "heretical", it has been suggested that Christianity had its origin in a mystery of initiates. According to this view, Christianity began as a Jewish adaptation of Greek mystery religion, and that Paul developed Christianity in another, more public, Hellenized direction, ultimately more acceptable to mainstream Roman culture.

These gnostic views are wholly rejected by almost all Christian groups in the world today. Indeed, it is believed that many of the New Testament authors wrote specifically to refute gnostic heresies.

[edit] Other religious forms

The other general forms of religions are the "revealed religion" and "natural religion". The public revelations embodied in a written scripture are characteristic of any "revealed religion". The seasonally shared public cult practices are characteristic of a natural theology which has a developed mythology but no single orthodoxy.

[edit] Examples of current mystery religions

[edit] Non-mystic mystery religions

Unlike most mystery religions, the following religions contain hardly any mysticism, and instead concentrate on written teachings, which are sometimes progressively revealed to initiates

[edit] Examples of mystery religions no longer practiced

de:Mysterienkult es:Religión mistérica fr:Culte à mystères it:Religioni misteriche nl:Mysteriegodsdienst pt:Religião de mistérios fi:Mysteeriuskonto

Mystery religion

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